Japan’s Modern History through International Exhibitions: A Guest Seminar with Dr. Ito Mamiko

Date: 8 November 2016

In this seminar Dr. Ito Mamiko, Associate Professor at Gakushuin University in Tokyo, presented her recent research into the history of the Japanese imperial expansion through the unique lens of national and international exhibitions. Surveying a century and a half of modern Japanese history from the Meiji Restoration of 1868 to the present day, Dr. Ito offered stimulating interpretations of the development of Japanese ideas of modernity, development and empire as seen in the various exhibition pavilions both in Japan and abroad.

Focusing especially on World Expositions (‘Expos’) held in the long period from the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first, Dr. Ito underlined the international political, economic and propaganda implications of these international events. She connected the decisions to participate in these exhibitions to the domestic economic and political realities, drawing attention to the willingness of the Japanese leadership to advance the image of ‘modern Japan’ on the world stage by investing, even at times of economic hardship, in participation in – and organisation of – international exhibitions. The guest lecture, which was held in Japanese, served as a unique opportunity for the Project team and the Faculty members to engage in a fruitful and stimulating discussion.